Transfer of public land disruptive

Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Living in harmony with nature is not compatible with clearcut logging. I learned this from Alaska Native elders from Klukwan and Hydaburg, with whim I had the honor of serving on the old Southeast Regional Council. They came to the council for help, because the logging practices of Sealaska Corp. were destroying local customary and traditional subsistence uses. Sealaska refused to listen, or to modify their methods.

This is understandable. Sealaska is a private, for-profit corporation. The corporation must make money. Unfortunately, the way they make money often overrides their Native culture's traditional values.

The small communities on Prince of Wales Island rely on free access to healthy upland habitat. This presently is available to everyone, Native and non-Native. Everyone, Sealaska included, can bid on timber sales. Under existing federal land management rules, protection is given to customary and traditional subsistence uses, fish streams, old growth timber stands, delicate karst formations, and the many commercial and recreation uses. Once private, the land is no longer subject to any federal protections.

So, with deepest gratitude for what Native elders taught me, I can not support taking thousands of acres of everyone's land out of public use and management and giving it to a private, for-profit corporation with a record of destructive logging practices, unresponsiveness to local concerns and restricting public access, even if they are Native-owned.

I respectfully request Sen. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, Sealaska's president, to protect the communities he was elected to represent. Please direct Sealaska toward selecting land from their remaining, already-chosen ANCSA entitlement lands, rather than seeking through Congress a disruptive transfer of public lands already in long-term multiple uses.

Gretchen Goldstein

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